Ill-health or disability is forcing one in eight people to stop working before they reach the state pension age, the TUC says.
It found almost half a million people have had to leave work for medical reasons within five years before they were due to retire.
In March the government announced an independent review into the state pension age.
Research by the TUC research points to a significant north/south divide.
In the south west of England, just one in 13 people blamed sickness or disability for leaving work. However, that figure rises to one in seven in the north of England, Scotland and Wales and one in four in Northern Ireland.
Those in the lowest-paid jobs or in manual work are also twice as likely to stop working for health reasons than managers or professionals.
‘Retire in dignity’
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “These figures show that we must hold off on any further rises in the pension age until we have worked out how to support the one in eight workers who are too ill to work before they even get to state pension age.
“People should be able to retire in dignity with a decent pension when the time is right. Older workers have a crucial role to play in the labour market but we can’t expect the sick to wait longer to get a pension when they may need financial support more than ever.”
A government review of the state pension age is being led by ex-CBI chief John Cridland. Its findings are due to be published in May.
The state pension age is set to rise to 65 for both men and women by November 2018 and 67 by 2028.
Tom McPhail, head of retirement policy at financial services firm Hargreaves Lansdown, said earlier this year: “Those joining the workforce today are likely to find themselves waiting until their mid-seventies to get a pay-out from the state system.”